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US Navy admiral sentenced to 18 months in bribery scandal

19 May 2017

U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino remarked Wednesday on the "thoughtful, systematic" way Gilbeau appeared to have gone about trying to cover up his involvement with Francis.

The first active-duty U.S. Navy admiral ever convicted of a federal crime was sentenced Wednesday in San Diego to 18 months in prison for lying to investigators to hide his illicit 20-year relationship with Leonard Glenn Francis, the foreign defense contractor at the center of a massive bribery and fraud scandal. During that period, he also reportedly partied across Southeast Asia with Francis, with the latter sponsoring lavish dinners, drinks at karaoke bars and prostitutes.

When the massive corruption scandal was initially discovered in 2013, Gibeau repeatedly lied to investigators from Defense Criminal Investigative Service and Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

"This is the first time our nation will incarcerate a Navy admiral for a federal crime committed during the course of his official duty, and it is truly a somber day", US Attorney Alana Robinson said.

'When tempted by parties and prostitutes, one of our most respected leaders chose karaoke over character'.

He told the judge he is "deeply sorry" and can not explain his actions. To ease his anxiety, doctors prescribed him a therapy dog, a fluffy white Cavachon crossbreed named Bella. Gilbeau's defense had argued that his PTSD and a traumatic brain injury from a blast in Iraq should be taken into account, though prosecutors said he was exaggerating his condition because he knew he was going to get caught.

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He added that the media has "painted me to be corrupt and despicable" but he is "still proud" of his service.

It's not just his high military rank that makes Robert Gilbeau stand out among the active-duty officers nabbed in the scheme, but his long-standing relationship with Leonard Glenn Francis, nicknamed "Fat Leonard" for his girth.

In March, a second retired rear admiral, Bruce Loveless, a Navy intelligence officer, was charged in the case.

The heavy-set, Singapore-based Francis has admitted to plying officers with cash, booze, prostitutes and other perks to ensure US Navy ships stopped at ports where his firm operated. He is awaiting sentencing.

All have come under investigation for their ties to Leonard Glenn Francis, a Singapore-based defense contractor who has pleaded guilty to bribing scores of Navy personnel with prostitutes, cash, luxury goods, top-shelf alcohol and extravagant meals - paid for by millions of dollars in illicit profits that he gouged from the Defense Department.

Over a span of two decades, Gilbeau rose through the ranks to become a US Navy admiral.

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In exchange for these gifts, Gilbeau signed off on inflated bills from Francis's company, which overcharged the Navy and American taxpayers by significant amounts, the release states. In return, evidence in the investigation suggests GDMA kicked back $40,000 cash to Gilbeau, who denied the allegation.

U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino said Gilbeau carried out "a systematic destruction of records", after Francis was arrested in 2013 to hide his involvement.

"You violated the law", she said.

The Post said Admiral William Moran, the vice chief of naval operations, had written a letter to the court saying Gilbeau had inflicted "immeasurable damage" on the Navy and "grossly dishonoured his uniform and betrayed his fellow shipmates".

Twenty current and former Navy officials have been charged so far.

While Gilbeau pleaded guilty to only an obstruction charge, prosecutors said it was important to lay out the details of the relationship they uncovered in the investigation. Five GDMA executives have also pleaded guilty, according to the Department of Justice. He earned a number of honors for his service, AP reported.

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US Navy admiral sentenced to 18 months in bribery scandal